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Does It Hurt the Least to Get a Tattoo?

Some body parts are less painful to get a tattoo.

If you have never received a tattoo before or if you have a tattoo and are wondering where it would hurt the least to get one, here is the information you need. It’s hard to define the amount of pain that a person will experience when getting a tattoo since everyone reacts to pain differently. Also, getting tattooed in places that have more nerves will generally cause more pain than other places on the body.

You can expect that getting a tattoo will be painful to one degree or another. The top layer of the skin is pierced repeatedly by a sharp needle. Different pain levels are experienced by individuals but in general, there are different areas of the body that can be described as being the least painful places to get a tattoo.

Tattoo Shop Toronto – Anecdotal Evidence

There have never been any scientific studies done to isolate the different parts of the body that would hurt the least or the most in terms of getting a tattoo. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence, however, which demonstrates the most painful and the least painful body areas. As a Toronto tattoo shop that has been operating for years, we can tell you the areas that you could expect to hurt more than others based on feedback from our customers and our own experiences as professional tattoo artists in Toronto.

In general, areas that often cause the least amount of pain during a tattoo are not located close to any bones or nerve endings and have some fat padding, muscles or tight skin.

Tattooing in Toronto – Areas That Hurt the Least

There are several areas that won’t generally cause as much pain as others and they include:

  • Lower and upper back

  • Calves

  • Outer bicep

  • Outer shoulders

  • Forearms

  • Outer upper thigh

Lower and upper back 

You can expect to receive low to moderate pain when you get a tattoo on the lower or upper back since there aren’t a lot of nerve endings in these areas. The skin is thick and isn’t close to nerve endings or bones.


The calves have a lot of muscle and fat and don’t have many nerve endings. The pain level can range from low to moderately low.

Outer bicep

In this area you can also expect to receive a low to a moderately low amount of pain. There aren’t many nerve endings and there is a lot of muscle in the outer bicep area.

Outer shoulders

There are very few nerve endings found on the outer shoulders and it has very thick skin. This is one of the places where you could expect a lot less pain versus other areas on the body.


With minimum nerve endings, the forearm has a lot of thick skin and muscles. As with the other areas listed above, the pain would usually be ranging from low to moderately low.

Outer upper thigh

There is a lot of padding and fat in the outer upper thighs and this is one of the best places to get a tattoo if you are afraid of the pain. Usually, the pain threshold is between low and moderately low.

Tattoo Areas That Hurt the Most

Here is a list of the different areas that you should expect to hurt the most when receiving a tattoo:

  • Inner bicep

  • Stomach

  • Hands and feet

  • Fingers and toes

  • Lips and face

  • Spine and neck

  • Hips

  • Back of the knees

  • Kneecap/elbows

  • Groin area

  • Breasts and nipples

  • Ankles

  • Shins

  • Rib cage

  • Armpit


When you look at the list of areas that hurt the most, the armpits stand out as being the most painful. In fact, many tattoo artists will recommend not getting a tattoo done there due to the pain factor.

In second place is the rib cage for the majority of people. Getting a tattoo here can cause severe pain since the skin is very thin and there isn’t a lot of fat on the ribs. As well, while the tattoo is being done you will be breathing, which in turn moves the skin on the rib cage. This can cause intense pain and like the rib cage, a tattoo there is not recommended. The shin bones and the ankle bones also have thin skin layers and are just about as painful to get as one on the rib cage.

The groin area, the breasts and the nipples are all very sensitive areas and getting a tattoo in these places can be extremely painful. They are full of nerve endings as is the area located at the back of the knees. You can expect to receive pain that ranges from high up to severe. The same holds true with the spine and neck.

There are also a lot of nerve endings in your lips, face, ears and head and there is not a lot of fat content in these areas either. Getting a tattoo on your lips can lead to bruising, swelling and bleeding.

Other Determining Factors

There are other factors involved when it comes to pain tolerance and what you could reasonably expect. Age, weight, gender and other factors can play a role but it hasn’t been scientifically determined what type of role each one plays. In general though, loose skin and older skin may be more sensitive to pain than younger, tight skin.

All of the above painful body areas should be approached with care. If you have any questions, turn to a professional at Hon Tattoo, a tattoo shop in Toronto. The tattoo artist can give helpful suggestions regarding the placement of tattoos and the type of pain experience you could expect.

It’s important to remember, however, that there are people getting tattoos every day around the world and they are willing to experience some pain in order to get the benefits. Tattoos are wonderful artistry and when you want one it should just be a matter of determining how much pain you’d be willing to withstand to get one. After all, once a tattoo is done, the pain will be gone soon and you’ll have a beautiful piece of art to proudly display.

Feel free to call us with any questions you may have or book an appointment at 905-604-5102. You can also reach our Toronto tattoo studio directly through our website at

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